An Adopt-a-Senior page for upcoming high school graduates has spread joy around Maricopa.
[pull_quote_right]The first week we created it, the support of this community was infectious.[/pull_quote_right]With more than 600 graduating high school seniors living in Maricopa, the announcement that schools were closed for the year due to coronavirus and there would be no standard graduation ceremonies was stinging for the community.

Three women, all mothers of seniors attending Maricopa High School, wanted to make sure the teens weren’t “swept under the rug.” They started a Facebook page, “City of Maricopa Adopt a Senior 2020,” to give them a little extra support and love.

Jodi Levy launched the page April 21 after chatting with her friend Kasi Johnson. Christina Dryden, who met them on the MHS Parents page, came on board, and all three became administrators as the page quickly drew 635 members.

They opened it to all high school seniors in town, no matter what school they attended or if they were homeschooled. At least one of them is handling the page at all times, answering questions and watching for duplicate entries.

“These kids, this is their milestone,” Levy said. “They’ve worked so hard to get to that graduation day for this to be taken away. I mean, it’s nobody’s fault. It happens. They just need to be shown, ‘We understand what you’re going through; we’re here for you.'”

Parents or friends or the seniors themselves can post a photo and information about a senior to be adopted. Other community members can then look for names that are “not adopted” and claim them. That means private messaging the poster and finding out what is wanted or needed by the senior.

Surprises have included snacks, gift baskets, balloons, yard signs, gift cards and more.

“The parents post the pictures once they get their little surprise or whatever their adoptee has brought to them, and it just melts your heart to see what this page is doing for these kids who thought they lost everything,” Johnson said.

They have seen people who don’t have kids in school come on the page to adopt one or two, or more. They have seen friends adopting friends.

Levy said the circumstances hit some seniors harder than others and sometimes hit parents harder than the kids.

“Everyone, no matter what your story, we’re here for you,” she said. “We see what you’re going through. We’re so proud that you guys got to this moment and you’re just pushing through in this crazy, freaking time.”

The page has kept pace with the number of “adoptees,” and Johnson said they are trying to reach more seniors.

“I just sob. The first week we created it, the support of this community was infectious,” she said. “Everybody was jumping on board. Seniors were getting adopted multiple times. Some had two, three, four people that adopted them. Just to show them that they love them and see their reactions.”

Dryden said the situation is bigger than just being able to walk across a stage and get a diploma. Each senior has had their individual challenges and struggles and accomplishments to reach the graduation milestone. Some have serious medical conditions. Some have terrible family situations. Some have had serious academic struggles. Some are the only child in their family, and parents were left with a mountain of disappointment.

“Every kid’s got a story and a history to their journey,” Dryden said.

Levy said they want to have a big push on the page on graduation day, whatever form that takes, to show the seniors how much they are appreciated.

“We just wanted to lift spirits for these seniors,” Dryden said. “That’s what it amounts to.”